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Bears sign former Bronco D.J. Williams to replace Brian Urlacher

12:57 PM, Mar 22, 2013   |    comments
Linebacker D.J. Williams was released by the Denver Broncos today. Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images.
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Former Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams has agreed to a one-year deal to help plug the void left by the team's decision to release longtime middle linebacker Brian Urlacher.

The deal, first reported by the Chicago Tribune, carries a $900,000 base salary with up to $850,000 in incentives, Williams told USA TODAY Sports' Lindsay Jones in a text message Friday.

Williams, 30, was scheduled to make $6 million with the Denver Broncos next season before he was released. His turbulent 2012 included two suspensions - six games for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing drugs, and three games for an August conviction for driving while impaired.

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In announcing the drug suspension, The NFL said he provided a "non-human" urine sample for a drug test.

Williams collected 627 tackles in his nine seasons with the Broncos and had missed only eight games before last season. Urlacher, an eight-time Pro Bowler is a free agent after he and the Bears couldn't come close on terms for a new deal to keep him in Chicago.

Williams told USA TODAY Sports the Bears want him to play middle linebacker. Williams hasn't played that position since 2007, instead playing primarily weakside linebacker in Denver's 4-3 defense. Until his suspension-shortened 2012 season, he was responsible for making the defensive calls from the weakside role.

Williams' best statistical season was in 2007 as the middle linebacker for then coach Mike Shanahan. Williams had 141 total tackles, two forced fumbles and a sack that year.

(Robert Klemko and Lindsay Jones, USA TODAY Sports)

(Copyright 2013 USA Today Sports. All Rights Rserved)

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